Can't-Miss USA

She's Miss USA and she's from Michigan. Hooray!

Oh, she's gorgeous, as you would expect---but this time Miss USA looks a little different.

That's because she's Arab American.

Rima Fakih of Dearborn wears the crown today, chosen over 50 other contestants at yesterday's pageant in Las Vegas.

She's 24, of Lebanese descent, and a graduate from the University of Michigan-Dearborn with a bachelor's degree in economics and business management.

And did I say gorgeous?

Fakih works in marketing at the Detroit Medical Center, and she's got the Arab American community atwitter.

"This is unbelievable," gushed Rami Haddad of Livonia. "It's a dream come true. I can't express my feelings."

"This is the real face of Arab Americans," said Zouheir Alawieh of Dearborn. "Not the the stereotypes you hear about. We have culture. We have beauty. We have history, and today we made history. She (Fakih) believed in our dreams."

I had no idea the Arab American community would be so agog about one of theirs winning Miss USA, but I must say---I'm proud of them.

Rima Fakih

Good for them, because they haven't exactly had the best of images around these parts in the past, oh, eight years, eight months, and six days---if you get me.

I'm proud of them because they wanted this not to give us all the bird, but to feel more like they belong. What better way to do that than to hold up one of your brethren as Miss USA, for goodness sakes?

Rima Fakih is beautiful and smart and has a bright future and she's Miss USA. The fact that she's of Lebanese descent is secondary.

Some will disagree with me. They'll look past her beauty and see the dark hair and the olive skin and the name and they'll sneer.

She's Arab!! She's not one of us!!

Fine. You'll not change those minds, no matter how hard you try.

And there's this.

When asked how she felt about winning Miss USA, Fakih said---and I'm not making this up---"Ask me after I've had a pizza."

Now THAT'S an American girl!

At La Pita Restaurant in Dearborn, they had a viewing party---not knowing who would win, of course. Well, apparently the place went bonkers when Fakih came out on top.

Some of her supporters wore t-shirts that bore this quote, from Rima Fakih herself.

"It's beauty that captures your attention, personality which captures your heart."

Red, white and blue decorations dotted the La Pita banquet hall.

They read, simply, "USA."


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